Apricot, Stem Ginger & Pistachio Meringues

Apricot, Stem Ginger & Pistachio Meringues

Three years ago to this day, we walked out of our wedding ceremony to the cheers of the congregation, rings on our fingers, Nat King Cole’s L.O.V.E dancing in our ears and joy in our hearts. I married you because you make me a better, happier, more confident me, for your easy charm and endless capacity to love. I thought our wedding was the happiest day of my life until we found out that Nino was on the way, then came the day that he was born, then every single one since: that happiness dial keeps tipping as our family expands. Continue reading

Blood Orange & Pistachio Pavlovas

Blood Orange Pistachio Pavlovas - 6

Over the years, friends have sought advice about relationships. I’m not an overly qualified – or interfering – agony aunt kind of a person, I just mean those conversations that come up over morning coffees and late night cocktails as people wonder if a particular love interest is working out, are they worth the extra effort and ‘is he or she THE ONE’? One friend, while drawing up a list of pros and cons about their partner, asked how they’d truly know if this was the love of their life and my answer – the fact they were writing that list and even questioning the relationship – was simply, you’ll just know. Yes there will be ups and downs and reasons to feel frustrated with, or maybe even momentarily hate, the most important person in your life, but beyond all shadow of a doubt, that underlying love and need to be together will win out. True love is unconditional, all consuming and inescapable. Continue reading

Blackcurrant Baked Alaska: A Guest Post from Poires au Chocolat

As mentioned in last week’s post, I’m currently in Bali on honeymoon with my brand new Carnivorous Husband (!). This second guest post is written by the lovely Emma of Poires au Chocolat. Emma’s blog was one of the first food blogs I ever read and her recipes and talent are incredible. This baked alaska is no exception and I can’t wait to try out the recipe once I’m back in England and autumn has arrived.

Back when I first met Kate we bonded over ice cream. Ice cream and a love for David Lebovitz’s recipes for ice cream. From that (excellent) starting point, our friendship blossomed into other forms of dessert and real life.

As a result, I knew that this guest post had to involve ice cream. I’ve made a few baked alaskas over the years but I’ve never nailed down a recipe I loved. This post seemed like a good time to finally sort it out. Continue reading

Raspberry & Pistachio Eton Mess

Raspberry & Pistachio Eton Mess Meringues will always make me think of my Granny.

Not my paternal grandmother – a skilled home baker whose larder was always stocked with a homemade chocolate cake, fluffy scones or knobbly rock buns the size of a fist – but my mother’s Mum. The same amazing woman who would serve stale Maltesers had little interest in baking, producing meringues from a packet and filling them with cream from a can, yet somehow this dessert remains utterly magical in my memory. Continue reading

Lemon Meringue Ice Cream

lemon ice cream

Crisp, slightly chewy meringue stirred through a rich lemony custard

The first time I tasted this ice cream, I knew I had to share it with you.

The flavour of frozen lemon is something pretty much everyone is familiar with. Whether you first tasted it in lemon ice lollies, lemon sorbet or even a slush puppy (granita to those of you who are Italian or have ever tried the slightly more sophisticated version of the lurid slop on sale in cinemas around the country), I’m pretty confident you’ll be able to find at least one childhood memory filled with that mouth-puckeringly sharp sweetness, shards of icy lemon melting on your tongue.

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Lemon, Almond & Blackberry Slice

lemon meringue

Almond dacquoise & meringue are layered with lemon curd cream & toasted nuts

A major occupational hazard of baking is the mess.

If you’ve ever left sticky fingerprints on a work surface, mistakenly smeared chocolate behind your ear, walked flour footprints across the kitchen or somehow managed to turn every pan and utensil you own into a pile of washing up, you’ll know what I mean.

My tiny little space for baking might be more hazardous than most. Because it’s so small, every cupboard in the kitchen is crammed to its limit, herbs and spices jostling for space with packets of pulses and only one dedicated place to keep all my baking ingredients. It’s not that I haven’t tried to encroach on other cupboards, but after storing chocolate in the same place as curry powder resulted in it taking on a strangely spicy flavour, I’ve returned to a single space to store my flour, sugar, chocolate, nuts and syrups for fear of cross contamination. Continue reading

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Cake

peanut butter mousse cake

Chocolate mousse. Two words, a hundred variations, a thousand different expectations.

Ever since I made this favourite little dessert on holiday in Italy, I’ve wanted to write about it on the blog. My usual recipe for chocolate mousse is simplicity itself, rich and elegant, steeped in childhood memories and consisting of just two ingredients: chocolate and eggs. It’s the ultimate store cupboard recipe (don’t tell me you’ve not got chocolate on your shelves, I don’t believe you), and involves minimum effort for maximum impact, making it an easy go-to recipe to have in your repertoire.

Perhaps a little too easy. Continue reading

Raspberry, Peach & Hazelnut Eton Mess

peach eton mess

Where do you stand when it comes to freezers? Are they a baker’s best friend, a modern monstrosity or simply a necessary evil?

If you like to bake as much as I do, you’ll be familiar with the issue of leftovers. While our household has as large an appetite for sweet treats as the next (ok, possibly ever so slightly larger), sometimes there’s simply more than we can manage. And while one of the best things about baking is sharing the spoils with family and friends, if they’re not around the freezer can be a lifesaver. Continue reading

Brutti Ma Buoni Biscuits

hazelnut meringue cookies

Brutti ma buoni – ‘ugly but good’ hazelnut meringue biscuits

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Despite this age old idiom, evaluating things by their appearance is sadly second nature in so many circumstances in life. Appearance influences the big decisions – it is said that in an interview, you have just seven seconds to make a good impression – but also the little ones: the quality of an apple, the content of a book, how delicious a dessert is going to be.

I’ve talked before on this blog about the pitfalls of style over substance when it comes to food. Incredible wedding cakes covered with beautifully crafted decorations concealing bland or dry sponge; slicks of sauce on a plate so small as to make little contribution to flavour; an artfully placed sprig of mint that you have to push to one side without eating.

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Chocolate & Hazelnut Marjolaine

hazelnut_meringue_cake

Layers of hazelnut & chocolate meringue, vanilla & praline cream & chocolate ganache

While Italian food will always hold a special place in my heart, when it comes to desserts I have to admit it’s the French who really know what they’re talking about. Their puds are good. Too good, perhaps. Elegant, flawless and invariably involving multiple stages, these incredible feats of confection can often feel beyond the realm of your average home baker, appearing more frequently in the pages of a restaurant menu or the window of your local patisserie than on a private kitchen table. Recipes requiring rounds of piping bags, pints of cream and the patience of a saint aren’t everyone’s idea of fun, and a fancy French gâteau can be altogether far flightier than a dependable British pud.

That said, sometimes you need to take a leap of faith. It’s easy to stay in your kitchen comfort zone and shy away from anything that sounds too tricky, but where’s the fun in that? Continue reading